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Last Month's Top Sellers

1. JOHN COLTRANE - Both Directions At Once
2. CHARLES LLOYD + LUCINDA WILLIAMS - Vanished Gardens
3. ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER - Hope Downs
4. KAMASI WASHINGTON - Heaven And Earth
5. DAVID BOWIE - Welcome To The Blackout

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FEATURED RELEASES

Monday
Jul302018

VA - Agnes Obel: Late Night Tales

"This is an unusual, beautiful and dark album curated by — and at times performed by — the Danish musician Agnes Obel. It's part of a series of artist-curated albums called Late Night Tales. Nils Frahm, The Flaming Lips, Jon Hopkins and others have put their own records together for the series in the past. For her Late Night Tale, Agnes Obel has chosen music from a wide variety of artists — from the soul of Nina Simone to the wit and wisdom of The Kinks' Ray Davies, the lush strings of Henry Mancini, the quirkiness of Can and the ethereal Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir. Somehow she has managed to stitch it altogether.

My first listen to this album was transporting. Agnes Obel says that she "collected all the songs together with my partner, Alex Brüel Flagstad and we just spent time listening to records, trying to see what would fit together. Some of the music I've included here is on mixtapes we made when we were just friends as teenagers. Each one of the tracks produces stories in my head."

Included with these older tracks are three new, original songs from Agnes, including a collaboration with the Danish poet Inger Christensen's work, "Poem on Death." I suggest you hit the play button and listen to the songs and read Agnes Obel's descriptions. This is truly a rare listening experience I'm thrilled to share." - NPR

Saturday
Jun232018

MICHAEL RAULT - It's A New Day Tonight

"It’s too bad Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks already called their album Sparkle Hard earlier this year, because that simple little phrase would work well as the name of Michael Rault’s sophomore effort. Not so much thematically, that is, but sonically. The record—actually titled It’s A New Day Tonight—glimmers like a taut pop-rock song pouring from radio speakers in the ‘70s. Warm tones, breezy melodies and the sugary strum of guitar strings crackle under crisp production. It’s a timeless sound...

...There are plenty of ‘60s and ‘70s touchstones here, but the biggies are The Beatles, The Kinks and Big Star. Those are big footsteps to trace, yes, but Rault is certainly capable, and It’s A New Day Tonight offers hook after hook after hook draped in a credible vintage sheen by folks that understand vintage sheen. As long as you’re not allergic to classic pop-rock earworms, it’s a solid record that deserves repeated spins." - Paste

Tuesday
May222018

FRANCOISE HARDY - The Despair Of Monkeys & Other Trifles: A Memoir

"Françoise Hardy has had quite a career. She rose to fame as a singer-songwriter in the 1960s. She was part of, if not in the forefront of the yé-yé movement (a style of pop music originating in Europe in the 1960s). She scored many hits in her native France and around the world. “Tous les garçons et les filles”, “Et même”, and “Only You Can Do It” (“Je veux qu’il revienne”) were her biggest international hits. She was also a model, actress, author and expert on astrology...She is not shy about sharing her personal life. Her friendships and relationships make this book near impossible to put down at times. She writes the book very matter-of-facty and without judgement. This is quite refreshing. Her meeting of Nick Drake is an interesting read and her description of Mick Jagger (“bewitching”) is also quite fascinating. She is also very open about her unique marriage to French singer, Jacques Dutronc (with whom she is still legally married)...

The Despair of Monkeys and Other Trifles: A Memoir was originally written in 2008 in French. It has taken a number of years for the book to be translated into English, but it does not take away from the book. It is still a worthwhile read. Besides being a great autobiography it also provides a look at an era, or rather multiple eras and ways of life that no longer seem to exist. The book also features some never before seen photos of Hardy and her friends." - Spill Magazine

Monday
May212018

SHACKS - Haze

"The first thing you notice about almost any song by The Shacks is that voice. Singer Shannon Wise wields a mesmerizing wisp, silky and lambent, like curls of smoke swirling into a moonlight sky. If it sounds familiar at all, it may be that you caught the Apple iPhone ad last fall that featured Wise, singing the group's 2016 cover of Ray Davies' "This Strange Effect," as she walked through different Los Angeles backdrops. (It's not every day that one of the richest companies in the world essentially shoots a music video for you.)

Wise has had a good track record with "strange" songs; producer Max Shrager first worked with her when he invited Wise to sing on "Strange Boy," a 2016 single by Brooklyn's El Michels Affair, which led directly to the two forming The Shacks. With their debut album, they've continued to perfect a sound that accentuates the subtleties of Wise's vocal instrument. She doesn't have the range or volume of more conventional pop and soul artists, so The Shacks have learned to boost its presence through smartly stacked overdubs and woozy sheets of reverb. Is it any surprise that the group has named its album Haze? 

Key to their style is how The Shacks embrace of a wide range of influences that owe as much to American R&B and British rock and roll styles of the '60s as it does '80s and '90s indie- and dream-pop..." - NPR

Saturday
Apr282018

SONNY SMITH - Rod For Your Love

"On his own, or as leader of Sonny and the Sunsets, the engaging Sonny Smith specializes in finely observed vignettes about everyday people that showcase his wry, slackerish voice. For all its rough edges, though, there’s nothing casual about his scruffy garage pop, which tempers a streak of melancholy with offhand, self-aware wit. Produced by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach (who knows a thing or two about making eccentricity accessible), Rod for Your Love is Smith’s most commercial effort yet—it’s all relative—boasting a brighter sound and sunnier vibe than before. Witness the jaunty, toe-tapping optimism of the irresistible “Lost,” where he chirps, “I know the way this time,” or the romantic drama “Burnin’ Up,” featuring Angel Olsen’s tangy harmonies. While Smith may never top the charts, he’s never been more entertaining or more deserving of mainstream attention." - Mother Jones

Tuesday
Apr102018

ALELA DIANE - Cusp

"Oregon-based singer-songwriter Alela Diane Menig’s outstanding fifth album is the result of her confronting what she sees as one of the more ridiculous remaining artistic taboos – that women should not write songs about having babies. The singer has form when it comes to going deep – 2013’s melancholy About Farewell documented her painful break-up from husband and band-member Tom Bevitori – and Cusp gains much from exploring motherhood’s agonies as well as ecstasies.

Her thoughtful, dreamy vocals drift across a grand piano, providing both pretty and wistful songs with emotional wallop. Never Easy finds a new appreciation of her own mother; So Tired addresses the fatigue of labour; Threshold and Moves Us Blind are sublime ruminations on the passage of time...The album title comes from Menig’s near-death during childbirth, and her subsequent realisation that we are forever “on the cusp” between death and life, heartbreak and euphoria, all of which are in fulsome supply here." - The Guardian

Saturday
Apr072018

JOHANN JOHANNSSON - Englaborn + Remixes

"With future successes and greater works imminent, Jóhannsson's shocking and sudden passing at the age of 48 makes it all the more bittersweet to have Englabörn reissued as an expanded package. Originally conceived as a set of cues for a play by Hávar Sigurjónsson, Englabörn became a standalone composition. It has all the hallmarks of the film scores that followed: the knack for finding a heart-stirring theme and developing variations, the suggestion of emotional complexity in a handful of notes, being traditional in his sound while also suggesting new possibilities. The opening notes of "Odi Et Amo" still bear a great sadness, a feeling that transfers to the plinking chimes and electronics of "Bað." "Ég Sleppi Þér Aldrei" still feels like a chasmic grief that's at once vertiginous and aching. The mix of tocking percussion, chiming glockenspiel and strings on "Sálfræðingur" is somehow propulsive and pensive at once. 

The remixes show Jóhannsson's influence on his contemporaries. Fellow Icelander and one-time Touch labelmate Hildur Guðnadóttir uses her cello and electronics to find the latent growl in "Sálfræðingur Deyr." As A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran take the brief "Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta" and scale it into something majestic. Theatre Of Voices deliver two notable reworks. They turn "Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta" into a chorale, and their version of "Odi Et Amo" gives Englabörn & Variations a heartbreaking finale. Having had "Solari" reimagined by Jóhannsson for his recent Async - Remodels LP, Ryuichi Sakamoto returns the favor on the exquisite "Jói & Karen." Himself a master at creating hybrids of classical composition and electronic ambience, Sakamoto quickly gets to the emotional kernel of the piece while also taking it into deep space. Englabörn & Variations won't be the last reissue of the composer's work, but Jóhannsson clearly had more to give. (In fact, he had been working on this package with Deutsche Grammophon shortly before his death.) What remains is a profound body of work that will continue to resonate." - Resident Advisor

Tuesday
Apr032018

DEDEKIND CUT - Tahoe

"In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.

It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions." - Boomkat

Tuesday
Apr032018

NAP EYES - I'm Bad Now

"Nap Eyes are still a fairly new group, so they are still developing quite dramatically with each subsequent release. Overall though, the group has a calling card, and that would be boxed-in rock rhythms similar to the Velvet Underground, the Feelies, or the Strokes. Their debut, Whine of the Mystics, was more of a rave-up, often taking the faster, more aggressive side of their style, even closing out with a seven-minute motoric-driven chugger called, "No Fear of Hellfire". Their follow-up, Thought Rock Fish Scale, slowed it all down, throwing more focus on the nasally-spoken and meandering thoughts of Chapman. It was critically loved, but can be a bit of a snooze if slow strums and languid grooves don't excite your pleasure centers.

I'm Bad Now finds Nap Eyes somewhere in between their two former releases. The album starts out seering with "Everytime the Feeling" evoking annoyance and clenched teeth with aggressively down-strummed chords and Chapman nearly spitting his words at us. "I'm Bad" continues the same trajectory but goes one step further: Chapman calls the song's subject 'dumb' and abruptly follows it up with a dual guitar solo seriously reminiscent of Zuma-era Neil Young and Crazy Horse. It's quite the kick in the pants coming from a band named after feeling sleepy. There's a few more aggressive tracks, but mostly the album relaxes dramatically after the first third, all the way to the closing track, "Boats Appear", being just a few acoustic guitars and Chapman speak-singing like Lou Reed on "Pale Blue Eyes"." - Popmatters

Tuesday
Apr032018

MARK RENNER - Few Traces

"The sum of Renner’s music is one-part literary, one-part painterly. The artist cites the individualism of Herman Hesse as a guiding force, and there are overt references to W. B. Yeats and John Greanleaf Whittier among other authors. Lyrical themes evoke the presence of the ancient past, much like early Felt songs or the spiritual visions of Van Morrison. (Tellingly, Renner cites Morrison’s 1980s albums made between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and No Guru, No Method, No Teacher as musical influences.) 

Apart from his writing, Renner explored music as a complement to visual language: many of the dream-like instrumental passages presented across Few Traces were originally implemented as sound elements for exhibitions of his paintings. Renner pursued wordless music as a pure aesthetic in its own right, pristinely balanced segues and open-ended compositions that lead to pasture but not without shepherd.

Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it. (Mark is still active making music and painting) The instrumental explorations remain on par with the great ambient adventurers of the period (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Roedelius), while the vocal and guitar-centric songs crystalize across similar terrains being transversed by Cocteau Twins and The Chills." - Boomkat

Saturday
Mar312018

BELLE ADAIR - Tuscumbia

"The tissue connecting the many strains of the musical community of Alabama is being created by a group that you might not expect: a winsome pop ensemble known as Belle Adair. But these four gents are at the nexus of so many different projects and sounds from the Yellowhammer State, with some of its members logging time in the Alabama Shakes and the whole group touring as the backing band for singer/songwriter Donnie Fritts. As well, the group helps run Single Lock Records, a label that has released the work of Alabaman heroes like John Paul White (The Civil Wars) and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

Left to their own devices, Belle Adair goes for a much gentler sound influenced by the work of groups like Big Star and Teenage Fanclub. Their songs breeze by, urged forward by chiming guitar lines and melodies that seep into your skin like lotion. The band’s second album Tuscumbia abounds with that feeling, capped off by some cozy production work captured at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and Wilco’s The Loft..." Paste

Friday
Mar162018

YO LA TENGO - There's A Riot Gong On

"Bringing the real world into the music world, veterans of indie rock Yo La Tengo release their 15th full-length album There's a Riot Going On. Haunting, soft, and dreamy from beginning to end, this album explores a multitude of sounds, leaving an impression of escaping to an altered reality. Starting the album off with the sprawling instrumental track "You Are Here," the electric guitars and hazy drones set the tone for the next 14 songs. Tracks like "Out of the Pool" and "Ashes" mix their shoegaze sound with a style of funk similar to the album's namesake, Sly and the Family Stone's 1971 record There's a Riot Goin' On.
 
Apart from the bouncier tracks, There's a Riot Going On is worthy of being the ultimate late-night album. Appropriately titled "Dream Dream Away" does just that. Playing with psychedelic elements of ample guitar riffs and Ira Kaplan's winsome vocals leaves chills down your spine, giving us the sense of being left in a liminal space...There's a Riot Going On is an exceptional addition to Yo La Tengo's legacy, a timeless classic." - Exclaim

Saturday
Mar032018

ANNA BURCH - Quit The Curse

Previously known for participating in folk-rock group Frontier Ruckus and co-leading indie pop quartet Failed Flowers, Michigan-based songwriter Anna Burch steps out into the spotlight with her excellent full-length solo debut, Quit the Curse. Several of these songs had previously appeared on limited cassettes, including a split EP with Stef Chura, but here they're given fresh, hi-fi studio production. Burch's voice was somewhat obscured in her previous bands, but here her vocals are resoundingly clear, and her lyrics are sharp and direct, sometimes to a startling degree. She expresses concern and frustration with friends who are constantly indifferent or have trouble connecting with their emotions, but she has similar issues to deal with herself.

On opener "2 Cool 2 Care," she's given up even thinking about finding true love, and on the more upbeat "Tea-Soaked Letter," she lets her true colors show and ends up making a scene and embarrassing herself. The slowly simmering "Asking 4 a Friend" arrives at a heavier chorus proclaiming "I think it's suspect you ever feel lonely at all." Her straightforward expressions of social anxiety are all too relatable, and the songs are easily memorable without being earworms. Like Chura, Burch's songs have enough lightly fuzzy guitars to recall some of the more accessible grunge and alternative rock produced during the '90s, but without sounding too derivative and ending up an exercise in nostalgia. "Belle Isle" is slower and closer to moonlit country-pop, with pedal steel guitar and an echoing glow on Burch's vocals. The album ends with one of its best songs, "With You Every Day," which sways softly but finds release with a simple but powerful wordless chorus. - Allmusic

Tuesday
Feb272018

MARLON WILLIAMS - Make Way For Love

"...This release, however, is far more focused, comprised of songs written in the aftermath of a relationship's end. Within this theme, Williams explores the full gamut of emotions, and that rich and resonant voice is the perfect vehicle. There is the passionate pleading of "Can I Call You," with lines like "let her find her way to you, I can't be sure if she ever will." Beginning with sparse piano and a guitar strum, it builds with strings that will tug at your heartstrings without becoming melodramatic. "Party Boy" is a jealousy-fuelled tune with a touch of malevolence, yet it has a frisky '50s vibe to it. Another highlight is "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore," a lush duet with Aldous Harding. The fact that this was recorded after Williams' breakup with the singer adds further intensity to the powerful ballad.
 
There is definitely something retro about Williams' vocals and the production on the album, with obvious reference points being such emotionally expressive balladeers as Roy Orbison (an acknowledged influence), Scott Walker and Chris Isaak. On "I Didn't Make A Plan," he goes to a deeper register, convincingly, but it is his pure and soaring delivery that generally holds court (Jeff Buckley is another point of comparison)...The result is a stunning work that will draw you back to repeated, if oft intense, listening." - Exclaim

Friday
Feb232018

VARIOUS - These Great Stars Are On Fire & Fury

"The postwar explosion of independent rhythm and blues record companies included an extremely important group of African American-owned firms that played hardball with the big boys long before Berry Gordy established Motown. Heading the list were Vee-Jay Records in Chicago, Don Robeys hard-boiled Duke/Peacock empire in Houston, and Bobby Robinsons Harlem-based Fury and Fire logos. Robinson accrued his early industry experience from behind the counter of Bobbys Record Shop, located down the block from the Apollo Theatre. The store opened for business on August 20, 1946, and it became a gathering place for record buyers and music luminaries alike. Stars would wander down between their Apollo shows, and label honchos would stop by to see what was selling. Along the way, Robinson learned the ingredients that went into a hit." - Waterfront Records

Tuesday
Feb202018

ROBERT EARL THOMAS - Another Age

"There are a million songs dressed in white t-shirts and American denim, songs that drift through open spaces in some busted sedan, over lost highways that become tributaries to eventual static, crawling traffic and stifling density. There are a million more songs about being wild and green in the cities and outside them: a song about love for every person on this earth. Another Age, the debut album from Robert Earl Thomas, avoids inhabiting these clichés even as it embraces their personal influence, distilling plucky observations and reveries into something both universal and specific.  This is an album about small moments with big emotional footprints, told humbly and honestly.
 
It’s a debut that plays the part without succumbing to it, more pastel romantic comedy than sepia historic drama. Thomas addresses with uncommon gentleness his own pet preoccupations with iconic imagery and tones: there are stylistic nods to Springsteen and Dire Straits, Arthur Russell’s more folk-leaning output, the various collaborations of Tom Petty & Jeff Lynne. But Thomas seems intent on conveying his specific take on these things over emulating them; you get the impression that he’s just as inspired by karaoke renditions of “I’m On Fire” or “Romeo and Juliet” as he is by the originals. As a narrator, he steers a road song away from jaded indifference, and his self-aware ballads are concerned not with broken hearts (or breaking them) but with city-induced anxiety, complex and unfamiliar love, and soft ruminations on getting older..." - Captured Tracks

Monday
Feb192018

DANIEL BARENBOIM - Claude Debussy

"During his years as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris – from 1975 to 1989 – Barenboim made an intensive study of Debussy’s harmonic and rhythmic innovations and his extraordinary palette of tonal colours while preparing a number of the composer’s orchestral works for concert performance. That wealth of experience has also enriched Barenboim’s examination of Debussy’s piano works, enabling him to realize their orchestral dimensions by means of his agility and range of colours at the keyboard. Served by sensuous, grounded, and powerful playing, the pianist becomes a gripping storyteller who masterfully sustains the music’s broad arches and enlivens each piece with immediate intensity and a potent sense of atmosphere.

The album’s repertoire reflects Debussy’s compositional finesse and versatility. Alongside the delicate musical images of Estampes, the programme includes one of his best-known works, “Clair de lune” from the “Suite bergamasque”, which Barenboim also considers “one of the absolute masterpieces.” The leisurely waltz “La plus que lente” unfolds with subtle irony, followed by the halting, delicate melancholy of the “Elégie”, composed in 1915. The album is crowned by the first book of “Préludes” dating from 1909-10 and, on account of its poetic expressive power, occupying a unique place in Debussy’s output. The composer translated the literary associations that sparked his imagination into widely contrasting musical dream images that enchant us with their thrilling virtuosity or tender lyricism. Barenboim recorded “Préludes I” in 1998 at the Institut Pere Mata in Reus, Catalonia and has chosen to include the collection here alongside the works he recorded in Berlin in the autumn of 2017." - Universal Music Canada

Saturday
Feb172018

THE ORIELLES - Silver Dollar Moment

"The Orielles are a pop band in the purest, most unerring sense of the term. They play indie pop that’s informed by the past but which belongs entirely to now. Silver Dollar Moment is replete with hooks but it’s also filled with substance. Wiser than their tender years would suggest, this band’s various reference points - from Orange Juice’s blue-eyed soul to The Pastels’ gentle pop - would elude your average 17-year-old. ‘Old Stuff New Stuff’, for example, mixes 60s chamber pop with the band’s propensity for experimenting with dub and funk.

The Orielles defy indie pop logic by not making songs about romance and heartbreak. Instead they often borrow idiosyncratic and surreal themes from cinema (see single ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’, its title taken from Tarantino’s Death Proof, and ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’, inspired by Yorgos Lanthimos’ film Dogtooth). Their shunning of cliche doesn’t end there: ‘Sunflower Seeds’ navigates a path between psychedelia and shambling indie rock that’s as faithful to both genres as it is curiously idiosyncratic...

Silver Dollar Moment’s vibrancy is at odds with the current mood of the world, but it’s also a vital indication of where we’re at now in terms of indie music’s trajectory. It shakes off any negative connotations of modern indie, particularly in the ‘landfill’ sense of the word, and reclaims it. This is not a new development, of course - women have long been doing this in DIY scenes everywhere - but The Orielles’ success on this album only brings this perfect indie pop further out into the sunlight." - The Quietus

Saturday
Dec022017

OXFORD AMERICAN 2017 Music Issue 

"Now in its 19th year, the Oxford American’s annual Southern music issue has long held special meaning for our readers, many of whom collect it, eagerly anticipate it, and enthusiastically tell us what we get right (and wrong) every year. In 2017, we’re featuring the music of Kentucky, highlighting some of the Commonwealth’s most enduring legends and local favorites while celebrating overlooked and lesser known musicians. With contributions from Sturgill Simpson, James Lindsey, Bill Monroe, Julia Perry, King Kong, and Loretta Lynn, this 27-track compilation includes songs from 1927 to the present, with two extra bonus tracks on our first ever digital download." - Oxford American

Saturday
Nov042017

JACKIE SHANE - Any Other Way

"Recognized by genre aficionados as one of the greatest singers and most riveting stage presences in soul music, Jackie Shane has remained largely unknown outside Toronto, where her career briefly flowered in the 1960s. Ms. Shane is a star without parallel—a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable.

Any Other Way is the first artist-approved collection of Ms. Shane’s work, collecting all six of her 45s and every highlight from the legendary 1967 live sessions at the Sapphire Tavern, including three mind blowing, previously-unreleased tracks. Any Other Waymarks Jackie Shane’s first communication with the public in nearly half a century. Rob Bowman's extensive liner notes tell, for the first time ever, Ms. Shane’s story in her own words, copiously illustrated with never-before-seen pictures from a career and life unlike any other." - Numero